Last week at CTIA Wireless IT & Entertainment 2007, Ryan Kim of the San Francisco Chronicle sat down with Lowell McAdam, the CEO of Verizon Wireless. If Ryan Kim were one of my Facebook friends, I’d “high-five” him for putting McAdam’s feet to the fire during their chat. In his Saturday post on the “Tech Chronicles” blog, Kim writes:
I asked [McAdam] about Wall Street Journal columnist Walt Mossberg’s blog comments about the big carriers acting like the old Soviet government restricting the freedom of their users, namely what kind of phones and services they can use.
McAdam said he had heard Mossberg bring this up repeatedly. He said that the U.S. mobile industry has nothing to be apologetic about in terms of innovation and competition but that Verizon Wireless is considering opening its network to new devices and applications, as Mossberg advocates.
“The industry is so innovative, and there are so many applications and devices coming, we’d be foolish not to respond to the market,” McAdam said.
Reading McAdam’s response to Kim’s question several times, I couldn’t help but think it could be interpreted one of several ways. Will Verizon completely open it’s network? My bet is ‘not anytime soon.’ Will Verizon introduce cooler devices and increase the size of it’s developer network? To remain competitive, they’ll have to.
While I won’t be surprised if Verizon introduces an increased number of apps – especially social networking applications and services in the next couple of years, I’ll be really surprised if they open up their network to the masses, voluntarily. Verizon’s ‘walled garden,’ “V Cast” is the most fiercely defended ‘service platform’ I’ve seen in the mobile industry. It’s going to take an unprecidented amount of pressure from mobile industry evangelists and critics including journalists like Walt Mossberg, entrepreneurs like Dustin Moscovitz (co-founder of Facebook who talked about the need for more openness in the mobie industry at CTIA), innovative OEMs (Google?!), ISVs, and customer advocacy groups to knock it down.